How can we make amends for our long silence, dear Reader?
A story left unfinished, long months of isolation in our individual shielding boxes, deliveries grinding to a halt and all trade shows and fairs cancelled. Not the best of times for the Steampunk Dolls House or Steampunk-Shrunk, or, indeed, for our loyal band of followers.
Mrs S was occupied for much of the time producing PPE for local care homes and educating her grandchildren via something called video messaging. (Their desperation to return to school in the autumn attests to the limited success of that venture…)
To say we felt neglected is the greatest of understatements. And has normality returned? Certainly not. The tiny local Post Office has opened its doors again and – for those customers willing to wait days, weeks or sometimes months – a few items have been fitfully edging towards their destinations. The Magpie Vintage and Curiosities shop has reopened in Midsomer Norton and at least Mrs S now occasionally visits the workshop.
Her project for the last few weeks has been the long-forgotten Backgammon Garden. It was almost completed several years ago, but a leaning orangery and broken lawnmower meant that it lay forgotten while other tasks took precedence. Finally, she opened the vintage box once more and shook her head sadly.
“I think I can fix Draig, Penelope,” she told me. “The blades just need to be remounted.” (Draig, for those who may be wondering, is the metal dragon lawnmower who patrols the garden, keeping it neat.) “The pond will be fine with a bit of adjustment to the fountain. The standpipe needs a touch of distressing to get the patina right, but what can we do with that orangery?”
The orangery was her pride and joy when she first made it. It was intricately constructed from clear acrylic sheet and ingeniously folded flat to allow the backgammon box to be closed. Unfortunately, it didn’t spring back into position when the box was reopened, but drooped at around 45° unless one of us went and stood against it.
I thought long and hard, until a solution came to me. “We need some tall clipped orange trees in heavy pots,” I suggested. “They can be wedged into either side of the structure to hold it up when the garden is open and removed and laid flat when we wish to close it.”
“Brilliant!” cried Mrs S. “An excellent plan.”
A selection of bamboo skewers, polystyrene balls, greenery intended for model railways, mock oranges and epoxy putty was assembled, together with various paints and glues, and at last the clipped orange trees were ready. Slightly unconventional, perhaps, but maybe it isn’t the only outbuilding that is held up by its trees.
You can also see Draig, here in the foreground, restored to his original splendour.
I’m very much enjoying wandering through the grounds and communing with Octavia – my very affectionate pet – who resides in the pond.
I have no idea what will happen to the garden. Mrs S doesn’t seem inclined to list it in the SteampunkDollsHouse, and keeps muttering about how it needs to go to the ‘right home’. I shall simply continue to enjoy it while it’s here.
As for the Etsy shop, a cluster of recent sales is encouraging us to hope that normal life will soon resume.