At the end of the day, I was left reflecting that leaving aside miracles, there is no operation performable within a day which can smarten a house up as much as new gravel. Spruce paintwork, cut lawns, and careful edging of flowerbeds are not to be underestimated, should spiffing be in order, but nothing yields so great a result for such a comparatively small outlay, as new gravel. With the aid of the AG’s parents and Miss T, 20 tons of three-quarter pebble were evenly distributed over the wasteland of holey, disintegrating tarmac in the rear quarters of the house. Miss T wrought mightily, filling barrows with gravel, barrowing them over to bald bits and tipping them out, to the amazement of all. The AG was meanwhile Tonka-ing in the middle distance trying to flatten the ground up the side of the pond. It was all terrifically hard work, but only five or six hours’ worth, at the end of which there was a transformation scene: all kinds of other bits of sorting out suddenly looked a million times better. I was particularly pleased to have the path down the side of the house gravelled — I have slipped and fallen on it on several occasions when hurrying round to the front door having been initially under the impression that the caller had appeared at the back (two dogs, frenziedly barking, can create a remarkable degree of confusion on this count). Now it is gravel rather than slimy moss over old tarmac, I am sure it will be a great deal safer. It’s all very good.
We went out to dinner this evening. Miss Kit was successfully captured and shot into the house, as a parting gesture. Agile as she is, she turned on a sixpence and shot out again. But the key to her personality, I think, is that she didn’t particularly want to be out. It looked as though it might rain, and the rough cats were about. It was more making the point that she didn’t want to be shut in. Having thus successfully eluded me, she then just happened to stroll rather slowly past me, pausing to rub against the side of the car, and allowed herself to be picked up once more without any sign of opposition. Her motto is ‘Tigers do as Tigers like’. But as long as you let her act out her independence, it turns out that what tigers like, on the whole, is toeing the line.