Well as usual, it's been a long time since I've blogged.
What an incredibly awful week it has been. I turned up at work on Monday. It had been a windy weekend and a lot of stock had fallen over, so I started the routine of standing up some of the stock and beginning to water. There were some leylandii which had blown over at the back of the nursery, so that was where I started. As I lifted up the first tree that I came to, I felt a sharp pain in my head. Out of the corner of my eye I caught sight of a small group of bees on the ground underneath the conifer and I knew what had happened: I had been stung in the head.
My initial reaction was the right one: RUN! In my panic, I fell over, scraping my knee and cutting my hand. Not much of an injury, but was bleeding a little so I got myself into the kitchen to wash my hand off and get some antiseptic cream on the cut. I was shaken a little but otherwise OK.
As I was washing my hand off, I heard the unmistakeable sound of more bees behind me. This was when I turned to blind panic, dashing out of the kitchen and tearing my fleece off over my head. There were about 30 odd angry bees in a clump on the back of my fleece. It became clear that I had disturbed a colony which had swarmed from one of the hives which are kept at the back of the nursery. There could have been anywhere between five and ten thousand bees in the colony and they're very aggressive when they're in this mid-swarm state.
One of our beekeepers was phoned to deal with the colony, and she confirmed that it had been quite a large swarm. It looked like I had had a very lucky escape, disturbing a colony and only coming out with one sting. I don't have a life-threatening reaction to bees stings (no anaphylaxis thankfully) but it takes a couple of days for my body to get rid of the toxins so I wasn't entirely surprised when, the following day, I had pains running down both sides of the back of my neck, through my left shoulder and down the back of my left arm. Still, I was thankful that it could have been much, much worse.
Two days later I was back at work (I went part-time last Autumn, but that's another story for another time), and I was understandably a bit nervous and perhaps a bit paranoid about bees being around me. While I was finishing off a cigarette after lunch, I heard the familiarly ominous sound of another swarm striking up. I radioed through to the office, but got no response, so I went in and raised the alarm. Tim was onsite (he's another of the nursery's beekeepers), so he could go and deal with the swarm.
As all this was happening, I began shaking. You know, the sort-of shaking you see on poorly written sitcoms when someone's really nervous and is inexplicably given a cup of tea in a teacup and saucer; cue lots of clattering of cup against saucer. It was that sort of shaking.
Somehow I managed to keep myself composed enough to work for the final hour before I was due to leave, and I also managed to get myself back home safely. Maybe it was the fact that I had a task to focus on that kept me distracted. As soon as I got home, I entered full-blown-hysterical-breakdown-panic-attack territory.
That was when I decided that it was time for me to hand in my notice with immediate effect. Thursday morning, I phoned in sick, having explained my state the previous afternoon and emailed my resignation to the nursery.
So now I find myself with a world full of opportunities stretching out ahead of me. I'm planning on doing some volunteer work for the RHS. Wisley is within reasonable travelling distance, as is Hampton Court and Chelsea Physic would just be a couple of train & tube journeys away. I've also got our own garden to develop and with the weather having been what it has been down here, that's going to need quite a bit of management.
I'd like to think I'll do a bit more in the way of blogging now that I'm no longer tied to the nursery. The politics of blogging while being employed by a particular business was a conflict which I never really resolved. Having said that though, I know I'm not as consciencious as I could be and they'll probably be the usual sporadic attempts.
Well, I think it's time for me to put the computer away and get on with some work in the garden. It's good to be back.
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