My visit to the kitchen garden.
By Pliny Official Regimental Goat
As it has been such a good Summer lots of delicious fruit and vegetables have been coming my way from the Grounds Staff. I have heard my PA and the SAPS saying how beautiful the gardens are. I’ve never been allowed to go in the gardens although I have sampled the plants in the urns on the terrace.
Angus told me that it’s impossible to get into the kitchen garden as the gate is kept locked. Vortigern assures us that he can get in over the wall any time he wants but he doesn’t bother because he doesn’t like fruit and vegetables. Angus rolled her eyes at this so I wonder if it’s true.
Turk came ambling along as we were talking, swishing his tail at the flies and grumbling about how hot it was in the stables. When he heard what we were talking about he laughed and said “Oh there’s another entrance near the stables. It’s where they wheel barrows of manure in from the muck heap”
At that I pricked up my ears and Angus looked as interested as it’s possible to to look with such a feathery face. “Do you think you could show us the way?” I asked.
Vortigern said he would rather stay in my stable as he was sure there were mice somewhere about but the rest of us set off towards the stables. It was such a hot day that most people were down by the lake so there was nobody to stop us. Turk led the way towards a high wall and there half hidden by ivy was a wooden gate. It had a round handle which Turk grabbed with his teeth. He twisted it sideways, there was a loud click and the door swung open.
We were in the kitchen garden and it was amazing. There were brick paths and neat beds full of all kinds of fruit and vegetables. There was a big greenhouse full of cucumbers and tomatoes and there were even hanging baskets with tomatoes tumbling out of them.
Angus took one look and then fluttered over to the lettuce bed where she began scratching and murmuring to herself about grubs and worms. I had seen a row of canes with wires stretched between them and tall plants growing up them with scarlet flowers. When I got closer I could see long pods among the leaves and flowers. Beans! I like beans so I helped myself to the nearest ones. They were excellent but I couldn’t quite reach the top ones so I reared up on my hind legs and put my front legs on the wires. All was well for a while and I munched happily away until I suddenly realised that the canes were beginning to lean sideways. I thought perhaps I’d better get down and just as I did the whole row fell over. Quite a lot of the bean plants were broken and it looked a bit of a mess but how was I to know that something like that would happen. I expect they bought cheap canes.
I looked around to see what the others were doing. Angus was still busy scratching in the lettuce bed and having a lovely time. The bed didn’t look quite as neat as before and there was a lot of soil and quite a few lettuce plants lying on the path. Turk, meanwhile, was nibbling at the tomatoes in the hanging baskets. He’s tall so he can reach easily but I did notice he was carelessly pulling the plants out as he chewed. The path around him was covered in bits of leaf and squashed tomatoes that he had walked on.
At that moment Vortigern came strolling in. He was twitching his tail from side to side and looking grumpy so I guessed he hadn’t caught any mice.
“I know they’re there but you and Turk clomping around make them hide”
Well really! I do not clomp around. Turk may be a little heavy hoofed but I have very dainty feet. Just look at the way I can creep about when I don’t want anyone to see me. I was just about to tell Vortigern how outraged I was when he flattened himself down and began to creep forwards. A pair of wood pigeons had just landed on the wall and he obviously thought he would catch one. I decided to leave him to it and looked around for the others.
I thought at first that Angus had gone home but then I saw that she had made herself a comfy dust bath in the lettuce bed and was happily crooning to herself while she fluttered around throwing soil everywhere. Turk had moved on to investigating a bed of carrots quite near to where the pigeons were cooing and bowing to one another on the wall. I like carrots so I decided to go and pull some up too.
I had barely got the first carrot in my mouth when Vortigern made his move on the pigeons and made a sudden wild leap towards the top of the wall. Of course he didn’t get anywhere near catching them and I’m sure I could hear them laughing as they flew off. Vortigern landed in an undignified sprawl on top of a pile of plant pots that were stacked against the wall. Lots of things happened at once. There was a terrible crash as the pots fell over, a loud yowl as Vortigern picked himself up and ran across the garden and a terrific thump as Turk jumped nervously and crashed into a pair of big wooden gates.
Much to my surprise the gates swung open. They had only been bolted and the weight of a large horse crashing into them was enough to break the bolt.
In the distance I heard another yowl and a loud squawk. Obviously Vortigern had run straight into Angus and her dust bath. Turk looked at me and I could see he was a bit ashamed of being so easily startled so I said “Well done. You’ve opened the gates to the flower garden. Shall we go in?”
The garden was just as beautiful as my PA had said. There were beds full of roses and many other kinds of flowers. There was a lovely green lawn and in one corner a fountain. Turk hurried forwards, lay down on the lawn and began to roll enthusiastically waving his legs in the air. I decided to go and look at the fountain. It was nothing like the one I had seen at Chatsworth but it was very nice and I was able to have a refreshing drink.
There was a tall hedge between the garden and the house and it was while I was having my drink that I heard the crunch of footsteps on gravel and a voice said “I’m sure I heard a crash from the kitchen garden. I hope the squirrels haven’t broken anything.” Suddenly I realised what a mess we had made and I wondered what to do. Turk was still rolling on the grass and obviously hadn’t heard. I tried to attract his attention but he was enjoying himself too much to notice. The footsteps were getting closer so I hid behind the fountain. A voice said
“Turk you big lump. What are you doing here?”
There was a grunting sound as Turk got himself the right way up and got to his feet. There was a great wail
“Oh no! Come and look at the kitchen garden. All our hard work! What a mess!”
This seemed like a good time to go back to my stable so I crept off and got behind the hedge. Looking back I could see Turk prancing round in circles with two people trying to catch him while he laughed at them. I must say there was some impressive use of bad language. Nobody had even noticed me so I trotted home.
Later that night when my PA came to feed me she said “Sorry Pliny. No carrots tonight. Turk has wrecked the kitchen garden. I can’t think how he did so much damage on his own.”
Hmm! I wonder if I should tell her what really happened.