BLAISE TAPP: The joy ofÂ gardeningÂ '“ yes, I've hit middle age
I have long taken great pride in the fact that I am a prime example of a kidult, an overgrown man-child who refuses to act his age.
My long suffering wife never tires of telling me she is in fact a mother of three rather than just the two she gave birth to. She probably has a point as I find life is so much simpler when the expectations on you are always set at the bare minimum.
Anyway, what is so wrong about always wanting to have the final word and ever so occasionally stamping your feet when things don't always go your way?
But there comes a time when we all grow up and I fear that that time is now for me. How can I be sure that this long overdue transition is finally in train?Â It is quite straightforward '“Â I now have a more than vague interest in gardening.
Nothing says middle-aged obscurity more than a heavily receding dad wielding a trowel and taking sole charge of the lawnmower. It would be wrong to describe this as a full-on obsession but the mere fact that I give our weeds a second thought is all the evidence one needs to conclude that I have finally begun to accept some of my adult responsibilities.
LastÂ weekend, when it seemed the entire country was either having a barbecue, on the beach or drinking cider in a pub beer garden, I was worrying about the lawn and whether or not our saplings were getting enough water. At one point I even got into a flap about the wilting petunias in our recently acquired hanging basket.
It wasn't long ago that I regarded our back garden as somewhere where we stored the stuff we couldn't squeeze into the shed. Now I patrol our modest-sized lawn like an over zealous park warden and woe betide any slugs that decide to make a play for our prized pansies.
My conversations have taken a turn for the worse too, when once my preferred office chat would centre around the vagaries of the 4-4-2 formation, it is now focused firmly on whether or not I should use blood, fish and bone on my bedding plants.Â
This change in focus can only be down to the fact that now that I am comfortably into my forties and permanently too knackered to support the licensing industry by walking nine minutes to my local.
There was no horticultural epiphany. Previously my only brush with the gardening profession came nearly 35 years ago when I visited Percy Thrower's house with the family.
But gardening is big business with billions of pounds spent on improving our private outdoor spaces each year. Nearly 90 per cent of homes have gardens, which, on average, makes up approximately half the green space in most British cities and approaching 50 per cent of us cite gardening as a regular pastime.
Although there are no firm statistics to back it up,Â I would wager our gardens are more frequently used by kids than they were when I grew up, given the fact that you seldom see a child play in the street in Britain 2018.
I may well now be officially grown up and, possibly, ever so slightly more boring but I am glad I am finally appreciating the joys of gardening.