Our great guru and friend, Robin Tanner, always said that he could not concentrate or settle to anything while there were workers in the house mending something or attending to whatever needed to be attended to. In those less politically correct days, he had named this distemper ‘men-in-itis’.

We also suffer somewhat from this ailment . . . so things tend to go on for months, if not years, without being dealt with!

This very day has been remarkable, exhausting but successful, for we have found (rather by chance, if not mistake) a good way of minimizing the miseries of men-in-itis. Not avoidance, but concentration!

A big boiler which was removed last year sometime has been lying around ever since looking very unattractive. Now (after a bit of phoning that we could have done months ago) these friendly blokes are about to heave it onto their truck . . . and away it has gone!

Also, for far too long, there has been a leak in our drive. For a year it has been an intermittent trickle but then a very big lorry went over it and it turned into the mighty river you see here. Again, once we had actually got round to inviting his services, this water expert managed to dig down to the pipe, remove a section and fill the gap with a series of plastic gismos that looked more like children’s toys than building materials . . . but the problem has now been been cured.

At the same time (although this was more planned) our son Dan was removing branches from a tree that had been cut down last Christmas . . . by our daughter Cressida from Glasgow . . . but that’s another story.

The moral of this is that, if you dread three days suffering with men-in-itis, get the three jobs done all on the same day and, further to get into the spirit, get out the secateurs and prune a hedge yourself . . . which is what I did!

(” . . . and don’t forget to mention the rose hedge that I dealt with,” says Frances, “and that was in addition to packing and posting those two orders that came this morning!”)