International Women's Day- Sarah Cox- Critical Care Nurse and Stripe Connoisseur!
We all know what a tough year it's been this past year for everyone but even more so for our NHS workers on the front line. Sarah Cox from Cardiff shares her story here of her passion for lawn-care and how it helps her switch off after a highly stressful day at work. The power of lawn-care!
In the last year or so, I have become somewhat of a Stripe Connoisseur! This last year has been tough on everyone but in particular, the Medical Profession. I am a Nurse with a background in Critical Care and my Husband is a senior Doctor with a background in just about everything medical, but of course, I am biased.
There have been many highs and lows for everyone, not seeing family, being isolated from all that we know and as the social creatures we are; we crave the interaction and love and social aspects of each other and our families and friends.I don’t think at the beginning of the pandemic any of us were expecting the disastrous consequences the virus would have, particularly on our mental health. With lockdown in full force, many of us have turned to ‘at home hobbies’, DIY, garden care, sprucing up our houses and not to mention Zoom Quizzes. I would say we’ve all become a bit of an expert in our chosen vices now. For me, I have found my peace and serenity in lawn care.
As a child, I’d spent a lot of time in my Grandpa’s garden with him, pottering around and watching him use his Allett Cylinder mower. I was fascinated by it.I of course wasn’t allowed to play with this adult’s machine as I was only small, at least that’s what I thought the reason was at the time. I now realise this was probably due to the fact Grandpa was very fond of his Cylinder mower and did not want to give anyone else the opportunity of using it, something I now completely understand. Mum was also in the garden from an even younger age than me and truly loved it. We would all spend hours at the weekends pruning, planting, sprinkling and watering. The instant gratification you get when you stand back and admire your hard work, or Grandpa’s and Mum’s at least, felt magical to me.
A few years ago, I met my wonderful husband and moved from Cheshire to Cardiff. I grew up in the countryside with sheep, cows, chickens and one very aggressive Cockrel for the neighbours. I was surrounded by fields and a beautiful lawn I used to cut and weed for my parents; I didn’t realise how much I’d miss this when I moved to our apartment on Cardiff Bay with no lawn.
We had the most stunning view of the Bay and I loved every second of living there, however, after much persuasion, my husband allowed me to get a puppy, so naturally we needed a garden for this puppy and being a Husky mix we quickly realised we would need a big garden for the amount of energy this little guy has. We moved just outside of Cardiff for a quiet suburban life which of course meant lawns to tend. I could not be happier. I started gathering up equipment I would need each pay day and set to work.
Our plot is truly beautiful but as many fellow ‘new build’ homeowners will know, it is full of rocks and concrete under that freshly laid turf. I had my work cut out for me. I set about my journey with a ‘Garden Lawn Care Calendar’ of when to carry out each task and a subscription to Gardeners World Magazine, not to mention the Blogs I found on Allett. With a whopping 4,500 square ft to get to work on, I knew this would take me sometime and what better time than a Global Pandemic where we were physically not able to leave our homes with the exception of work etc.
I must admit, everything has been a case of trial and error. Sometimes the lawn has turned brown from too much fertiliser, sometimes it’s been scalded by cutting it too short and sometimes our dog would leave me lovely deposits I didn’t see until it was too late. It’s been a learning journey but one I have loved every minute of. I’m sure I won’t be the first to admit that I’ve really struggled mentally AND physically with the virus and one of the most important lessons I’ve learnt from my time so far in the medical profession, is that in order to look after your patients to the best of your ability, you need to first look after yourself. For me, this was lawn care. I knew the moment I stepped outside and set about my mission, I would instantly switch off and be cocooned in world of my own.
In the last week or so the weather has a become brighter and warmer, adding a sense of hope to the air. I’ve taken the time to complete my scarification, aeration, weeding, over-seeding, fertilising and any repair work the frost has induced (or my dog and husband) over winter. I’m now counting down the days until my first mow, but for now, letting my seeds germinate until it’s time for the big day.
Normally in the summer months I will mow twice weekly on a high setting after checking the many weather apps I have on my phone and going to bed the night before like an excited child on Christmas Eve, ready to make some fresh stripes in the morning. It’s become a bit of running joke now amongst the neighbours that when they drive past the stripes are always slightly different, alternating between diagonal, horizontal, vertical or wavy lines. It’s a wonderful feeling when they stop by and compliment my work on something that means a lot to me.
I can spend hours at a time on my days off, completely oblivious to the world around me, just being outside and mowing or strimming. To me, I suppose it’s a form of escapism, like many people use films or books. I believe absolutely every profession has been tested to their absolute limits this last 12 months and I find this a way of leaving work at the door, focusing on myself, gaining clarify on things and refreshing my mind ready to go back to work and help others do the same.
It is only now, having my own garden, I realise the amount of love, care and time my Grandpa, Mum, and many others single handily put into their lawns and the reasons they perhaps do it, not simply because it is aesthetically pleasing but because that is their sanctuary, their happy place and their way to find peace. We live in a world where we cannot always take things at face value, we never really know what is going on in some one’s head or personal lives and why people do what they do and some things are not for understanding. It is important we all find our own way of coping with things whether that is reading, knitting, sewing, running, gardening or dancing etc, it is important we find our peace in whatever means something to us.
Finally, if you’re not already convinced, after a hard day of garden graft, your husband may just treat you and bring out a tray of cold fizz for all of your hard work whilst you sit back and admire your majestic stripes.